Penguins weren’t the only ones in tuxedos at Lincoln Park Zoo on the evening of July 15. The 39th Annual Zoo Ball gala welcomed more than 900 distinguished guests to the black tie affair, which raised more than $1.35 million for interactive exhibits, including the conservation of endangered African penguins that will become the zoo’s latest residents this fall.
In keeping with the theme, the event (hosted by the Women’s Board) was held in an outdoor tent decorated to look like South Africa’s Boulders Beach. It was the joint vision of FROST Chicago and Jewell Events Catering who merged ombre tones of burnt orange, red and yellow in the décor and also provided quaint cabanas for relaxation during a night of dancing to the eclectic music of Ugochi and the Afro Soul Ensemble.
The event also included a silent auction with tickets to Broadway in Chicago’s “Hamilton,” an on-field experience with the Chicago Cubs, a once-in-a-lifetime trip to South Africa donated by Jet Set Travel Inc., and a weekend stay in a luxury suite at the Waldorf Astoria.
For the main course, Jewell Events Catering whipped up a three-course dinner with tableside carving service while spirits were provided by Breakthru Beverage Illinois. For dessert, guests enjoyed a s’mores bar (prepared with tabletop fire pits) and, later, a visit to Firecakes Donut Truck on the way out the door made the perfect final treat.
Here are our favorite 10 sights of the night:
1. Plus penguin decorations greeted guests as they arrived in the tent.
2. The lush cabanas provided a point of relaxation throughout the night.
3. One of the desserts offered a deconstructed lemon meringue tart accompanied by illuminated penguins.
4. Music was provided by Ugochi and the Afro Soul Ensemble.
5. A delicious s’mores station provided a unique sweet.
6. The main course featured herb-crusted beef tenderloin, broccolini, potato savyored, cauliflower, asparagus, pea pods, and carrots with cabernet-gorgonzola sauce.
7. Some of the tablescapes created by FROST Chicago and Jewell Events Catering.
8. A look inside the tent, designed to look like South Africa’s Boulders Beach.
9. Guests enjoyed a night of full entertainment and dancing.
10. Everyone took a last trip to the Firecakes Donut Truck before heading home.
Illinois Meetings + Events
Photos 1-7 provided by Alain Milotti
Photo 8 provided by John Reilly
Photos 9-10 provided by Violet Dominek at John Reilly